Redistribution in the Age of Austerity

Readers of this blog might be interested in this working paper we’ve just put up on the Levy working paper series. The abstract is below.

We examine the relationship between changes in a country’s public sector fiscal position and inequality at the top and bottom of the income distribution during the age of austerity (2006–13). We use a parametric Lorenz curve model and Gini-like indices of inequality as our measures to assess distributional changes. Based on the EU’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions SLIC and International Monetary Fund data for 12 European countries, we find that more severe adjustments to the cyclically adjusted primary balance (i.e., more austerity) are associated with a more unequal distribution of income driven by rising inequality at the top. The data also weakly suggest a decrease in inequality at the bottom. The distributional impact of austerity measures reflects the reliance on regressive policies, and likely produces increased incentives for rent seeking while reducing incentives for workers to increase productivity.

Emigrants, tax rates, and debt

Paul Krugman has an interesting piece here, and I can’t resist posting a link to something similar I wrote back in 2010.

PK’s piece also gives me an excuse to post a link to this piece by Oxford Economic & Social History graduate Christopher Kissane on incentivising emigrants to come home, which makes several good points IMO.

New research on households in long term arrears

Great work by Robert Kelly and Fergal McCann, pdf here, abstract below:

The resolution of the long-term mortgage arrears (those in arrears greater than one year; LTMA) crisis represents one of the key policy challenges in Ireland today. In this Letter we highlight the range of economic and demographic characteristics associated with the experience of LTMA in Ireland. Our analysis suggests that unemployment shocks, changes in mortgage affordability, the accumulation of non-mortgage debt, higher originating loan-to-value ratios and weak housing equity positions all have an important explanatory role. We also outline repayment patterns among households at differing levels of mortgage arrears. It is shown that in 2014, over three quarters of those in LTMA had continued increases in their arrears balances. This contrasts with those in the early stages of arrears, where less than half of all borrowers had arrears increases.

Slow train wreck

Why is anyone shocked at the political news from France this morning? Everyone is saying that the FN got a boost from the November 13 atrocities, and perhaps they did, but there are far longer run forces at play here.

One is the corruption and sleaze that characterises Parisian politics. But there are also economic factors that are having a predictable impact on attitudes (and if they are predictable, then economists don’t have the right to ignore them). Globalisation creates losers as well as winners, for example, and if no-one really cares about the losers, and we just pay lip service to the problem, then it is predictable that there will be a backlash. The Euro has not only locked in a set of distorted real exchange rates, but a macroeconomic policy mix with a pronounced deflationary bias. If times remain tough enough for long enough, and politicians hear your pain but don’t actually do anything about it, some people will eventually respond by voting for candidates who reject existing constraints on policy making. “Europe” is increasingly experienced as a set of constraints preventing governments from doing what their people want them to do, rather than as a means of empowering governments to collectively solve problems.

So why would anyone be surprised that Mme Le Pen has done so well; and is it not likely at this stage (though 2017 is a long way away) that absent major policy shifts she will come first in the first round of the Presidential election? And let there be no mistake: if she actually won the second round, either then or in 2022, this would mean the end of the EU as we currently know it.

What is so frustrating about all this is that it has been so predictable. Here are some links dating back to 2010, a year that risks being viewed by future historians as a fateful one:

Adam Posen

And me, with apologies for the self-indulgence, writing for Eurointelligence.

I am pretty sure Martin Wolf was saying similar things back then, and that many others were too.

The good news is that, as recent Irish experience shows, the populist vote stops rising when the economy recovers. (The decline in the independent vote share is quite striking, and SF have clearly stopped rising. And no, I’m not saying that anyone is like the French National Front, but support for these parties is the closest Irish equivalent to the French anti-establishment protest vote that is benefiting the FN so much.) And 2017, and even more so 2022, are a long way away. But Eurozone monetary and fiscal policy, and social policy too I would think, need to start taking into account the fact that the entire European project, the good bits as well as the harmful bits, is now facing an existential threat.

Update: Paul Krugman weighs in here.

Thoughts on Flat Taxes

Written for the RENUA flat taxes event today.

When all the little economists are in short pants, we learn the principles of public finance. Governments have to tax households and firms in order to provide services the market won’t, like libraries, street lighting, and national defense, as well as redistributing income from the rich to the poor as an aid to social solidarity. Taxes are a necessary evil. All taxes induce distortions to people’s behaviour. Some distortions, like the plastic bag tax, are clearly good. They make almost no one worse off and make lots of people better off. Recurrent taxes on property are in fact the least distortive to long run GDP per capita we have. While a site value tax would have been perfect, the LPT does a similar if suboptimal job.

Some taxes are highly distortionary, such as a very low corporation tax rate, or a very high income tax rate. These make lots of people better (and worse) off and damage important incentives. An efficient tax structure would deliver the funds to power public services with the minimum of distortions to individual and collective incentives. The theory of public finance has come around to the view that marginal taxes are not the most important thing to worry about, in information-opaque systems, the average tax rate should be relied on most heavily. The all-in tax rate for personal income tax & employee social security contributions is 52% here, relative to 46% on average across the OECD.

Perhaps more importantly, the ability to balance the average tax rate with a corruption-resistant tax structure through which taxes are collected and disbursed is a major asset of any public finance structure.  Important results have now been established showing the spread of corruption is quite badly affected by the ease with which the variables which determine the tax base can be manipulated by those in power. If we worry about the Noonan-end of the tax gathering element first, then, two principles which therefore make sense are simplicity and certainty with respect to the tax system.

Continue reading “Thoughts on Flat Taxes”

The Euro Debate and the Abuse of Language

Defenders of the Eurozone’s initial design, subsequent management and purported reform invariably refer to the system as a ‘monetary union’. So do academic commentators including the authors of the recent Vox piece on the origins of the crisis. Whether intended or unconscious, this is an abuse of language.

Monetary unions do not experience selective bank closures, the re-introduction of exchange controls or the numerous other manifestations of financial fragmentation that have occurred before and after the Eurozone ‘reforms’. Germany is a monetary union. In 1974 the Herstatt Bank collapsed in Cologne and several banks based in Dusseldorf went down in the recent crisis. Both cities are in Nordrhein Westfalen, but there was no closure of bank branches in the state nor were exchange controls introduced by the state authorities on either occasion. Interest rates in Nordrhein Westfalen did not detach from rates elsewhere in Germany nor did bank deposits flee the state.

When the Continental Illinois Bank went under in 1984, at the time the largest-ever US bank failure, the state of Illinois was not expected to handle the fall-out. In the recent crisis the state of Delaware, home to lehmans, and the state of North Carolina, home to Wachovia, were similarly spared. The USA is also a monetary union and there is federal responsibility for bank supervision, bank resolution and the protection of bank creditors.

The Eurozone in contrast was established in 1999 as no more than a common currency area, with a ‘central bank’ responsible only for monetary policy in the aggregate, in pursuit of an inflation target. To describe it as a ‘monetary union’ is to deny that there is any distinction between a common currency area and a monetary union. If the Eurozone really was a monetary union in 2008 the history of the crisis would have been very different.

Language matters. In his 1946 essay (Politics and the English Language) George Orwell put it like this:

‘The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.’

The danger is that relentless description of the Eurozone as a monetary union deflects attention from the awkward truth that it is not, and from the political unwillingness to make it so.

It has finally happened

It was way back in April 2009 that Barry Eichengreen and I first compared the world industrial output collapses of 1929 and 2008. The situation looked pretty alarming at that stage, but it turned out that we were a good leading indicator of recovery: the world economy started turning around almost immediately afterwards, thanks to a coordinated reflationary macroeconomic policy response. Then 2010 happened, reflation turned to austerity in Europe, and the global recovery slowed, to the point where at times it seemed to be petering out almost altogether.

And in August of this year, the inevitable happened: measured in terms of industrial output, our current recovery was overtaken by that of the interwar period. Pretty dismal stuff. Let’s hope that we can at least avoid the famous 1937-38 double dip, visible at the end of the interwar series.

 

 

Exchange rates

Paul Krugman suggests that exchange rates might matter for economic performance here.

On Ireland and exchange rates, one could add that, because of our large trade exposure to non-Eurozone markets, we  benefitted from an unusually large nominal depreciation in 2014-15 (which translated into a substantial real depreciation) (slides 8 and 9 here). I doubt this is unrelated to the employment boom we have enjoyed since then.

Review of budget oversight by parliament: Ireland

Worth a read by readers of this blog (.pdf).

Key lessons:

Budget oversight by the Irish parliamentary chambers is under-developed by international standards.

Reforms mooted include:

  • Ex ante parliamentary input to medium-term fiscal planning;
  • Ex ante parliamentary input on budget priorities;
  • Early publication of full budgetary information and legislative proposals;
  • Timely consideration of the Estimates of Expenditure;
  • Performance Dialogue with joint committees in early year;
  • Re-introduce “Pre-Budget Estimates” showing “no policy change” expenditure baselines;
  • Establish an Irish Parliamentary Budget Office to support parliamentary engagement and budget scrutiny;
  • Continuing Professional Development of parliamentarians and officials;
  • “Performance hearings” with joint committees in early part of the year (February-March);
  • Power for joint committees to recommend changes to performance information;
  • Systematic review of existing performance metrics;
  • Estimates Performance Reports;
  • Promotion of IrelandStat as an authoritative portal for public performance;
  • Linkages to higher level strategies and articulation of a “National Performance Framework”;
  • Establishment of a “National Performance Quality Panel”;
  • Role for Irish Parliamentary Budget Office in supporting performance scrutiny;
  • Selective Audit of Performance Information by the Office of the Comptroller & Auditor General in reports to the Public Accounts Committee and other committees.

Well worth going through this, it is a wealth of constructive suggestions.

ECONTALKS–UCC School of Economics Public Talks series 2015-16

Second event: International and regional competitiveness of the Irish economy

  • Date and Venue: Wed 11th Nov 2015 7.00-8.30pm
  • Venue: West Wing 5 (Main quad)
  • Speakers: Eleanor Doyle and Justin Doran

The School of Economics, UCC is launching a series of public talks in 2015-16. The talks are aimed at the general public. They are non-technical (and non-political), informative, at times provocative and even entertaining. The talks showcase the range of research and expertise in the School of Economics, UCC, and engage the public on issues that are both topical and of widespread interest. In our first year, we highlight issues around the economics of sustainability; from the sustainability of Irish public finances and the economic recovery, to public policy issues in the areas of health insurance, sport, science and innovation, education and climate change.

The talks are free and open to all.  More details here.

Suggested hashtag for these events: #ECONTALKSUCC

A recording of the first event held just before Budget 2016 with contributions from Seamus Coffey and Eoin O’Leary is available here.

Aviation conferences and meetings in November

The 2015 meeting of the European Aviation Conference (EAC) will take place this year in Cranfield University on November 19th and 20th. Academics, business and industry figures will debate whether the momentum behind airline liberalisation over past decades is now spent, as some evidence suggests.

The conference programme may be inspected and a booking made on the conference website.

Preceding the EAC will be the 2nd COST Workshop on Air Transport, Regional Development, Airport Hubs & Connectivity, which will take place at the University of West London (17 November) and Cranfield University (18 November). The program for the Workshop is available on the German Aviation Research Society (GARS) website where, as always, aviation-research-related information is updated continuously; see www.garsonline.de

8th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference ESRI Dublin

8th Annual Economics and Psychology Conference ESRI Dublin 

The eight annual one day conference on Economics and Psychology will be held on November 27th at the ESRI in Dublin. The purpose of these sessions is to develop the link between Economics, Psychology and cognate disciplines in Ireland. A special theme of these events is the implications of behavioural economics for public policy. Please sign up here to attend. There is no registration fee. Our keynote speakers are: Alan Sanfey, one of the world’s leading experts on fairness and social decision making; Stefan Hunt, who will speak about behavioural economics and financial regulation; and Pelle Hansen, who will discuss ongoing work on behavioural science and policy in Denmark.

At the last event in November 2014 we agreed to develop a broader network to meet more regularly to discuss work at the intersection of economics, psychology and policy. This has had three meet-ups so far and a fourth will take place on November 9th. Anyone interested in this area is welcome to attend. A website with more details and a mailing list to sign up to is available here. There are currently over 100 people signed up to the network and the events have been, at least in my view, very lively and interesting. There are several more planned for throughout 2016 and we welcome suggestions.

Programme 

830am to 9am: Registration

9.15am to 940am: Cathal Fitzgerald (DCU) “I Groupthink Therefore We Are: Detecting Behavioural Convergence in Leaders Before the Economic Crisis”.

9.40am to 1005am: Michael Daly (Stirling and UCD) “Childhood Self-Control and Smoking Throughout Life”.

1005am to 1030am: Victoria Taranu (Universiteit Hasselt ) “The implications of nudging in reducing residential energy demand and its potential for the EPC”.

1030am to 11am: Coffee

11am to 1125am: Leonhard Lades (Stirling) “Present bias and everyday self-control failures: A Day Reconstruction Study”.

1125am to 1150pm: David Comerford (Stirling). “The role of agency in preferences”.

1150pm to 1215pm: Irene Mosca and Cathal McCRory (TCD): “Personality and Wealth Accumulation Among Older Couples: Do Dispositional Characteristics Pay Dividends?”.

1215pm to 1pm: Alan Sanfey (Radbood). “Social motivations in decision-making: Insights from Decision Neuroscience”.

1pm to 2pm: LUNCH

2pm to 240pm: Pete Lunn (ESRI). “Pricelab: experiments for consumer policy”

240pm to 320pm: Stefan Hunt (FCA). “Applying behavioural insights to regulation: lessons from consumer financial protection”.

320pm to 350pm Coffee

350pm to 430pm: Pelle G Hansen  (Roskilde University). “Applying behavioural science in Denmark: progress and lessons”.

430 to 5pm Discussion

Debating Austerity: Professor Simon Wren-Lewis at the Royal Irish Academy

The Royal Irish Academy Social Sciences Committee in association with the UCD College of Social  Sciences and Law will be holding a conference on the topic Debating Austerity on October 29-30.  The Keynote Lecture and conference will be held at the RIA building at 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

The Keynote Lecture will be given by Professor Simon Wren-Lewis of Oxford University at 6pm, Thursday October 29 (lecture details below).  The lecture will be chaired by Patrick Honohan, Governor, Central Bank of Ireland.

This will be followed on Friday, October 30 by a full day of sessions debating the experience of austerity in Ireland from a variety of perspectives.

Further information on the conference and registration details are available here.   The admission price for the Keynote Lecture on Thursday evening is €5; admission to Friday’s conference is free.

Keynote Lecture: How to Avoid Austerity

Abstract:

Austerity may be defined as a large fiscal contraction that causes a substantial increase in unemployment. If the government has a budget deficit that is unsustainable, or a debt level that is too high, it is sometimes suggested that austerity is inevitable. For an economy with a flexible exchange rate and debt in its own currency, which includes the Eurozone as a whole, this is simply false. Fiscal contraction can always be delayed until monetary policy can offset the deflationary impact of any fiscal contraction. Unfortunately this is not true for a member of a currency union that requires a greater fiscal contraction than the union as a whole. Even in this case, however, a sharp and deep fiscal contraction will be an inefficient waste of resources. As the macroeconomic theory behind these propositions is simple and widely accepted, the interesting question about the current global austerity is why it has happened.

Simon Wren-Lewis is currently Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, having previously been a professor in the Economics Department at Oxford.   He is also an Emeritus Fellow of Merton College.   In September 2015 he was appointed to the British Labour Party’s Economic Advisory Committee.

Geary Institute Workshop on Well-Being and Economic Conditions

The Geary Institute is hosting a half-day workshop to look at changes in well-being in Ireland over the last 10 to 15 years. The specific aim is to consider a wide range of possible outcomes including physical and mental health as well as subjective well-being. Moreover we want to draw on a range of approaches from epidemiology, psychological medicine and the social sciences as well as different types of data. The event will be held in the UCD Geary Institute on Tuesday November 17th from 1130pm to 4pm. A light lunch would be provided.  This is is likely to be a full event so please RSVP to geary@ucd.ie to register attendance (there is no fee) and also let us know if you subsequently cannot make it.

Co-organisers: Kevin Denny (UCD) and Liam Delaney (Stirling University)

Programme:

1130pm to 1150pm: Registration

11.50pm – 1200pm: Introduction and Aims

1200pm – 1230pm: Brendan Walsh (UCD): “Reflections on Economic Conditions and Well-being in Ireland”.

1230pm – 1.00pm: Paul Corcoran (UCC) “Impact of Austerity and Recession on Suicide and Self-Harm in Ireland”.

1.00pm-130pm: Lunch

130pm – 2pm: Kevin Denny (UCD): “Self-reported health in good times and in bad: Ireland in the 21st century”.

2pm – 230pm: Eithne Sexton (TCD) – “Subjective wellbeing at older ages in Ireland 2009-2013: Predictors of change over time”.

230pm – 3pm: Cecily Kelleher (UCD): “Impact of the Economic Climate on Health Status during the first two decades of the 21st Century in the Republic of Ireland: Findings from the Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort study of a Thousand Families”.

3pm – 330pm: Michael Hogan (NUIG):  “Engaging with Citizens in the Design of Well-being Measures and Policies:  Systems Thinking and the Public Participation Network”.

330 – 4pm: Discussion

Philip Lane named new Central Bank Governor

Many congratulations to Philip who has been named as the new Governor of the Central Bank.

I assume this means that his blogging activities will be curtailed, and so it seems appropriate that he be publicly thanked for setting up this blog, in December 2008. Whether it made a contribution to public debate during the crisis is for others to judge — I think it did. But it also gave a platform to many Irish academics who otherwise would not have had a public voice, by dramatically lowering the cost of engaging in public debate. It helped bring us out of our academic comfort zones and engage with issues outside our research specialisms. In my case blogging even led to a couple of serious research projects, using history to shed light on the present. Finally, the blog provided a model for other group blogs in Eurozone crisis countries.

So, many thanks Philip and best of luck in the new job.

Virtual Issue on Financial Crisis: Free collection of articles from Economic Policy

Free until 31 December to celebrate 30 years of Economic Policy:

 

Virtual Issue: The Financial Crisis

We’ve pulled together a collection of articles reflecting on the range of analysis on the Global Financial and Eurozone crises appearing in Economic Policy over the last 5 years. This virtual issue focuses on one of the most acute contemporary challenges to economic policy and how the journal has contributed to our understanding of the European experience.

Cyprus: from boom to bail-in
Alexander Michaelides (2014) 29 (80): 639-689

The Greek debt restructuring: an autopsy
Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Christoph Trebesch, Mitu Gulati (2013) 28 (75): 513-563

External imbalances in the eurozone
Ruo Chen, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Thierry Tressel (2013) 28 (73): 101-142

The eurozone crisis: how banks and sovereigns came to be joined at the hip
Ashoka Mody, Damiano Sandri (2012) 27 (70): 199-230

From Great Depression to Great Credit Crisis: similarities, differences and lessons
Miguel Almunia, Agustín Bénétrix, Barry Eichengreen, Kevin H. O’Rourke, Gisela Rua (2010) 25 (62): 219-265

Lessons from a collapse of a financial system
Sigridur Benediktsdottir, Jon Danielsson, Gylfi Zoega (2011) 26 (66): 183-235

The great retrenchment: international capital flows during the global financial crisis
Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Cédric Tille (2011) 26 (66): 289-346

Recapitalization, credit and liquidity
Mike Mariathasan, Ouarda Merrouche (2012) 27 (72): 603-646

Systemic risk, sovereign yields and bank exposures in the euro crisis
Niccolò Battistini, Marco Pagano, Saverio Simonelli (2014) 29 (78): 203-251

Financial crises: lessons from history for today
Selin Sayek, Fatma Taskin (2014) 29 (79): 447-493

Banking crisis management in the EU: an early assessment
Jean Pisani-Ferry, André Sapir Econ Policy (2010) 25 (62): 341-373

This virtual issue is part of a broader celebration of Economic Policy’s 30th anniversary, which also includes the publication of Thirty Years of Economic Policy: Inspiration for Debate. Thirty Years of Economic Policy situates the Journal within a long view of its influence on economic-policy thinking, bringing together a selection of highly influential articles from the first 30 years of Economic Policy, which analyse some of the key global economic-policy challenges of our time within five broad areas: monetary and exchange rate policy; fiscal policy; European integration; unemployment and labour markets; and market regulation. Thirty Years of Economic Policy reflects on the major contribution that the Journal has made to economic-policy debate since its launch in 1985, and provides students, researchers and policy professionals a ‘reader’ of the progress we have made in understanding these key issues.

A dangerous union for small countries

Here are three papers I have read recently.

1. Reinhart and Trebesch on the way that external debts can hollow out local democracies. No need to elaborate on this I think.

2. Avdjiev, McCauley and Shin on cross-border banking: well worth a read for people not familiar with this stuff. They are talking about complicated transactions, but as we know in Ireland, much simpler transactions (banks borrowing overseas) can have dangerous consequences.

3. Athanasios Orphanides on the highly politicised nature of crisis decision-making in the Eurozone.

From 3, and from everything that we have observed during this crisis, from Ireland in 2010 to Greece in 2015, I infer that a small country is much more vulnerable inside the Eurozone than outside, if it gets into trouble. Outside, you will deal with the IMF on its own, and they have a standard policy template: debts will be written down, currencies will be devalued, and yes, there will also be austerity. Inside the Eurozone creditor countries will sit alongside the IMF at the table and you may find that neither of the first two policies will be feasible, which will make the austerity far more harmful than it would otherwise be, both economically and politically.

From 2, I infer that a small country needs to watch its banks like a hawk, especially if it is inside the Eurozone, because (from 1, and 3, and from what we have experienced since 2010) the political consequences of not doing so are just too damaging.

And from 1 and 3, I infer that government debts are something that small countries inside the Eurozone also need to be very concerned about. Especially in a monetary union without a banking union, like ours.*

So I find myself in agreement with Colm McCarthy. As was the case 15 years ago, we need to worry about the possible real exchange rate consequences of expansionary fiscal policy at this point in the cycle. And to be fair to the Irish economics profession, lots of people did worry about that then. But the main concern for me is no longer about economics, but about the risks to our Republic’s democracy. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

 

*What is a banking union? If Arizona elects a bunch of communists or survivalists to run the state, and the state budget explodes as a result, local banks will still be backed up by the Fed. My money will still be safe. I will still be able to withdraw it if I choose. This is what a banking union looks like, and don’t let anyone in Brussels or Frankfurt tell you any different.

 

Angus Deaton wins 2015 Economics Nobel Prize

A very good choice in my opinion.  Though in some ways a pity it was not on a joint ticket with Tony Atkinson.

Here is link to his personal web page   http://scholar.princeton.edu/deaton/home.

Deaton has written extensively on consumer demand systems, taxation, health, welfare, poverty, well-being, econometric methodology, the list is very long.

There is a good discussion of his contributions at  http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/10/nobel-prize-winner-is-angus-deaton.html and http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/10/deaton.html.

Note that Deaton is due to speak in Ireland soon, along with our own Cormac O Grada on the topic of “Modern Plagues: Lessons Learned from the Ebola Crisis”.

More details here  http://fungforum.princeton.edu/program/agenda.

Sports Sunday; DEW; Talking Point

It seems that not everyone enjoys the massive media coverage allocated to the rugby and football events.  Lifted from the comments, Sarah Carey writes:

 

I think sports should be on at the end of the news for a minute, and Saturday or Sunday afternoons for all-Irelands and perhaps the semi’s. Instead it has (through marketing – its an economics thing) come to dominate the media to the point where it’s not something men take an interest in after work, but a constant mainstream time and space occupying event. It used to be sufficient to shout for your county during Championship season and your country on the rare occasion we won anything (Ole!) but now it’s CONSTANT and even women ;-) are expected to be able to converse about a wide variety of sports AS IF IT MATTERED. And as if the nobility attached to PLAYING sports is earned simply by watching it, on a telly, on Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights, and all weekend, and all the golf opens, and horse racing (I mean, if you’re not betting on a horse at Cheltenham WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU) and as for F1 PLEASE/ cars going around and around? and I’m sorry. Rugby is a good sport, but you know it’s not a widespread country sport. It’s a posh boy sport. And it’s getting very dangerous with them all going around built like tanks and no son of mine will play it.
Hockey, there’s a grand sport. Gentlemanly and understated and no fuss and grandiosity. And only the odd injury if you put your head in the wrong place.
As for cycling, with ye going around in packs on Sunday blocking up the roads in that ridiculous gear instead of lazing in bed. Or out golfing. What happened to golf? The men could do their bonding and blabbing in awful clothes out of sight of the rest of us.
And all of it, even GAA, which really is noble, all about the money money money.
I’m going to set up a radio station which guarantees NEVER to have sport on it.

Right, got that off my chest!

As for compelling viewing on Sunday afternoons, you really can’t beat Pride and Prejudice. Or a good Agatha Christie. Something soothing to the nerves.

Sarah will be recording the Talking Point show at the DEW on Friday: 1pm in the library room at the Hodson Bay and everyone welcome to pile in and watch. Colm McC, Karl and Lorcan Sirr on panel.

The DEW programme is available here.

Future Funding of Higher Education Conference: Presentations Now Available

A conference on the Future Funding of Higher Education in Ireland was held in Maynooth University on Wednesday last. It was a very good day, with excellent speakers and great interaction between the audience and the speakers.

The presentations have now been posted online, and are available here.